Essence Of Raja Tarangini

Bhagvat Purana
Shankaracharya Hill, Kashmir

Kalhana’s Rajatarangini is a work relating the Parampara of kings that ruled Kashmir. It is written by Kalhana in the form of poems in eight chapters termed Tarangas (Waves) describing the lives and exploits of these kings and the conditions that prevailed in Kashmir during their times. This way it contributes to the study of history of that region during those times. This study is based upon the book written by M.A.Stein, who has translated this work in English from the Sanskrit original.

Essence of the FIRST BOOK

Kalhana begins his work by invoking Lord Hara, Ardhanarishvara, adorned by the jewels of the serpents and the Halahala He wears in His neck (i.1,2). He refers to Suvrata’s condensed compilation of the list of the kings (i. 12) and Kshemendra’s ‘nripavali’ list of kings, (i. 13) and Nilamatapurana (i.16) . He refers to Kashmir as the womb of Himalayas filled with water during the  periods of the first six Manus and formed the Lake of Sati (Satisaras).. From this saras, the land of Kashmir was formed during the period of the seventh (Vaivasvata) Manu by Prajapati Kashyapa. (i. 25-27). Here Gauri (Parvati), assuming the form of river Vitasta and the country is attended by the nagas Shankha and Padma. Here in the summit of the Bheda Hill, could be seen Goddess Sarasvati as a swan in the lake. Nearby here is   Nandikshetra, the permanent abode of Shiva. (i.36)
In that country,  52 rulers up to GONANDA III were the contemporaries of the kings of Kurus and the sons of Kunti (Pandavas)., and whose lives have not been recorded. (i.44)
The kings GONANDA I  and his successors ruled Kashmir for 2268 years in the Kali Yuga.. This calculation of the duration of these kings’  reigns has been thought wrong by some authors, who were misled by the statement that the Bharata war (Kurukshetra war) took place at the end of Dwapara Yuga (i. 48-49) When 653 years  of kali Yuga had passed away, Kurus and Pandavas lived on the earth.. At present, (when K (alhana) wrote the introduction,i.e., in the 24th year of the Laukika Era, 1070 years if Saka Era had passed. On the whole, at this time 2330 have passed since the accession of GONANDA III.. 1266 years are believed to account for the  sum of the reigns of the 52 kings mentioned above. (Brihat Samhita says that the time taken for the constellation of Great Bear ( Saptarishi Mandalam) to move from one nakshatra to the next is 100 years. When King Yudhishtira ruled, the Saptarishi Mandalam was in the constellation of Magha.). The date of his reign was 2526 years before the Saka Era. (i. 56)  The year 2526 before Saka Era corresponds to 653 Kali. This date of Yudhishtira’s coronation is taken by K as the I year of Gonanda I, and consequently as the starting point of his chronological calculations (Foot note of M.A.Stein on shlokas  55-56). Gonanda I went to the help of his relative Jarasandha and fought with Krshna and  Balabhadra and was killed. (i. 64). Krshna, the victor, had Yashovati, the pregnant wife of Gonanda I, installed in the throne of Kashmir by the Brahmanas. When his advisers at this time were grumbling for installing a woman on the throne, Krshna appeased them by reciting this verse from Nilamata purana:  “Kashmir-Land is Parvati; know that its king is portion of Shiva (Ardhanareeshwara). Though he be wicked, a wise man who desires his own prosperity, will not despise him” (i. 72). The queen bore a son in due course and the infant was anointed king by the Brahmanas He was named
 Gonanda, after his grand father. Neither the Kurus nor the Pandavas took this infant king’s help in the Kurukshetra war.
35 kings after him were immersed in the oblivion Lava then became the (36th ) king. He founded the town of Lolora. He gave the Brahmanas an agrahara on the banks of Lidari; This Lidari is modern Lider, one of the principal tributaries of Vitasta, flowing near Anantnag.
Kusa followed Lava. Khagendra obtained the throne after him. Surendra succeeded him. He died childless and was succeeded by  Godhara, from another family. He bestowed Brahmanas, Godhara Hastishala. After him came Suvarna., who brought to Karala, the canal called Suvarnamani.. His son Janaka  established the Vihara and agrahara of  Jalora.. His illustrious son Sacinara was like an earthly Indra (Sacipati). He died without a male issue.. Then the son of that king’s great grand uncle and the great grand son of Sakuni, the faithful Asoka reigned over the earth. (i. 101).. This king embraced the doctrine of Jina (note: not Buddha) covered  Suskaletra and Vitastatra with many stupas. At the town of Vitastatra, there stood within the Dharmadranya Vihara a chaitya was built by him, of a great height.. That illustrious king built the town of Srinagari, which was most important on account of its 96 lakh houses, resplendent with wealth. (i. 104)
(This Srinagari at the site of  present village Pandrethan  ( K’s  Puranadhishthana) on the right bank of Vitasta, some three miles above modern Srinagar.-M.A. S’s footnote) This sinless prince built a stone  enclosure for the shrine of Vijayeswara and two temples near that of Vijayesa, called Asokeswara..
 He was succeeded by his son Jaluka, who was a sishya of  Saint Avadhuta, who vanquished Buddhist controversialists  and shone with success.. Jaluka made a vow that he will ever worship Vijayeswara (Shiva) and Jyeshtesa (a Swayabhu linga) residing at Nandikshetra. He routed the Mlecchas and  and conquered other countries like Kanyakubja and settled from that region people of all the four castes  and particularly righteous men  acquainted with legal procedure in his own kingdom. Up to that time, there existed in this land, which had not reached its proper development in legal administration, wealth and other respects, a government like in most countries.. There were only seven main State officials; the judge, the revenue superintendent, the treasurer, the commander of the Army, the envoy, the Purohita and the astrologer. By establishing eighteen offices (Karmasthanas) in accordance with traditional usage,, the king created from that time onwards, a condition of things as under Yudhisthira. His wife Isanadevi  placed circles sacred to the  Mothers (Matruchakra) which were distinguished by their spiritual power, at the gates of Kashmir and other places.. { M.A.S’s footnote: The mystical chakra may have been carved in stone like Sri Chakra or Rajni Chakra and are being worshipped to this day in Kashmir in homes and in temples according to the rules of Tantra Sastra. Of the supposed swabhavika-natural- chakra of this kind, that in the  Sarika Parvata in Srinagar and the Jwalamukhichakra in the rocky hill above Uyen (Skr. Ovana) in the Vihi Pargana receive special reverence }. The king having heard the Nandipurana recited by some pupil of Vyasa, frequented Sodara and other sacred springs

Damodara II succeeded him after his passing away with his queen. He too was an ardent Shiva Bhakta. Vaishravana (Kubera) himself made friendship with him. He constructed the long dam Gudda setu. On one occasion when he refused to give alms to the Brahmanas, he was cursed to become a Sarpa On pleading with them for mercy they told him “when you hear  the whole Ramayana recited in a single day, then the curse will cease (i. 166). Three kings followed this Damodara They  were  called Hushka  Jushka and Kanishka  .who built three towns in their names as Hushkapura, Jushkapura and Kanishkapura respectively. These three were from the Turushka race.  During the powerful reign of these three kings, Kashmir was to a great extent in the possession of the Bauddhas. This was 150 years after the Nirvana of Buddha. At this point of time Nagarjuna a Bodhisatva, lived in this part of Kashmir, residing at Sadarhadrana. (i. 173). Abhimanyu who followed built an Agrahara and a Shiva temple. Under his instructions, Candracharya and others brought the Mahabhashya (i. 176) which was at that time difficult of access, into general use and composed their own grammar.

When the traditional customs of the land are broken the Nagas who had lost their accustomed oblations,  sent excessive snow in the region and thus destroyed the people. (i. 179). When there was deep snowfall, causing distress  to the Bauddhas, the king recided for six months of the cold season in Darvabhidara (lower hill region between Vitasta and chandrabhaga rivers) Gonanda   III ascended the throne at that time and reintroduced the pilgrimage, sacrifices and other worship in honour of the Nagas as they had been before. (i. 185) Vibhishana  I succeeded Gonanda   III  and he was succeeded by  Indrajit first and then by his son Ravana who worshipped the beautiful Vatesvara Linga. Ravana’s son Vihishana  II came next and ruled Kashmir for thirty five and a half years: His son Nara  (bearing the name Kinnara) succeeded him. Siddha followed Nara. To be succeeded by his son Utpalaksha and then by his grandson Hiranyaksha. Their reign lasted about sixty eight years. Hiranyaksha’s son Hiranyakula ruled then for about sixty years, and his son Vasukula  for sixty years.
Mihirakula, his son,  became king then. He was of a violent character and was over ruled by hoardes of Mlechchas. Mihirakula made an expedition to Simhala (Ceylon) and replaced that king by another. On his return, Mihirakula  scattered the Chola, karnata and Lata (central Gujarat) kings. Mihirakula founded the shivashrine in Srinagari called Mihiresvara and a large town called Mihirapura.. He made amends for his cruelty by gifts of Agraharas. He ruled the land for seventy years.
After the death of Mihirakula, his virtuous son Baka was crowned by the subjects. He  built a Shiva temple for Bakesa and ruled the country for  sixty three years. Kshitinanda, Vasunanda, Nara  II, Aksha and  Gopaditya  became kings in succession after him. His son Gokarna ruled for  about fifty eight years. He was followed by Narendraditya and then by Yudhishtira  I, In whose period, the affairs of the country soon fell in to disorder. His wicked councilors made the rulers of neighbouring countries eager to seize the kingdom (i. 361) Finally, he was made to leave the kingdom.
                                      Thus ends the first Taranga.

This essence of the Rajatarangini has been prepared by Sri. S. Chidambaresan, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. The author can be contacted at

Read the other Tarangas

Tarangini1    Tarangini2    Tarangini3     Tarangini4    Tarangini5     Tarangini6

Back to the News Page